CodeQL documentation

Potential exposure of sensitive system data to an unauthorized control sphere

ID: cpp/potential-system-data-exposure
Kind: path-problem
Security severity: 6.5
Severity: warning
Precision: medium
   - security
   - external/cwe/cwe-497
Query suites:
   - cpp-security-extended.qls
   - cpp-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

Exposing system data or debugging information may help a malicious user learn about the system and form an attack plan. An attacker can use error messages that reveal technologies, operating systems, and product versions to tune their attack against known vulnerabilities in the software.

This query finds locations where system configuration information that is particularly sensitive might be revealed to a user.


Do not expose system configuration information to users. Be wary of the difference between information that could be helpful to users, and unnecessary details that could be useful to a malicious user.


In this example the value of the PATH environment variable is revealed in full to the user when a particular error occurs. This might reveal information such as the software installed on your system to a malicious user who does not have legitimate access to that information.

char* key = getenv("APP_KEY");


fprintf(stderr, "Key not recognized: %s\n", key);

The message should be rephrased without this information, for example:

char* key = getenv("APP_KEY");


fprintf(stderr, "Application key not recognized. Please ensure the key is correct or contact a system administrator.\n", key);


  • Common Weakness Enumeration: CWE-497.

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